...where distraction is the main attraction.

Friday, May 22, 2015

A Friendly Reminder to Kill Your Whisky Gods (figuratively)

Jackson, Valentin, Murray, Roskrow, Cowdery, Smith, Bryson, Mitchell, de Kergommeaux, MacLean, Broom, Gillespie, van den Heuvel.  These people (amongst many more names) brought us to whisky.  All of these people motivated us to explore beyond Johnnie Walker, Macallan, Grant's, Jameson's, Ballantine's, Crown Royal, and Chivas.  They inspired us to record and classify our sensory experiences.  Sometimes they were the catalysts for us to publish our reactions in digital or printed formats.  For those of us who do air our hubris publicly, our writing styles were influenced by the writers that came before us.  Our very reactions to whiskies, even those we've never tried, were on some level formed by their opinions.

And that's okay.  We all have to start somewhere.  A lot of these gentlemen have an expansive acquaintance with whiskies that the rest of us will likely never accrue.  They set us off on our way, provided guidance, and helped set a foundation (how many metaphors would you like?).

But we don't have to drink like them or write like them.  And we don't have to endeavor to drink like them or write like them.  We are not them.  I know that sounds simple, but it's not.  Acknowledging our influences is easy, breaking free from them to fully discover our own preferences is the challenge.  Why only buy what other people like?  Why spend our time chasing other people's pleasures?

We can like wine cask finished whiskies.
We can like young whiskies,
NAS whiskies,
Whiskies aged in rejuvenated casks,
Whiskies with caramel colorant,
Those that have been filtered,
Those bottled at 40%abv,
Those distilled at Loch Lomond.

Even if our mentors smell mirabelles and quince, it's okay if we smell maple syrup and pancakes.
Even if our mentors smell boat hulls and the Islay shore, it's okay if we smell cow shit.

We don't have to like Brora.
We don't have to like Port Ellen.
We don't have to like Stitzel-Weller.
We don't have to like Karuizawa.
We don't have to like Kavalan.
We don't have to like Clynelish, Lagavulin, Laphroaig, or Glendronach.
We don't have to force ourselves to enjoy these.

We don't have to drink from a Glencairn glass.
We don't have to add teaspoons of water to our whisky.
We don't have to drink it neatly.
We don't have to read whisky blogs.

We can love Edradour and still thrill to Glenlivet 12.
We can hate Johnnie Walker Green and love its replacement, Johnnie Walker Gold Reserve.
We can hate shopping at retailers beloved by anoraks and instead frequent BevMo.

We don't have to write down tasting notes.
We don't have to think about our every dram.
We don't have to call it a "dram".
We can call it a "dram" without shame.
We can spell flavor like flavour, no matter where we're from.
We can load our tumblers full of ice on a summer's day.  Or a winter's night, for that matter.
We can nose our whisky with one nostril while we keep both eyes closed.
We don't have to smell our whisky.

We may even discover one day we don't even enjoy whisky, we just got caught up in the excitement, and we would rather drink beer or martinis or a flavored spirit or pinot noir or grapefruit juice with Clamato.  Without the burden of conforming to those who came before us, we might enjoy more fully what we're drinking.

Thank you for your time.  This has been a friendly reminder to kill your whisky gods (figuratively), brought to you by Fireball Cinnamon Whisky: Tastes Like Heaven, Burns Like Hell.


  1. Yes, people do not have to read whisky blogs. They only have to read one whisky blog: mine.

    1. As yours is a culinary blog now, they can read mine and yours.

  2. Imitated writing styles really do stick in my craw.

    By which I mean, "A thought-provoking blog, this. Bags of insight and almost subversive-like. A stunning post!"

    -Ol' Jas

    1. Why thank you. I like "Bags of insight" much more than "Bags of caramel". Your version is better than the original.

  3. Shameless rip-off ofthis book, at the least you could have properly referenced it. (I recognized it at once, it's a favorite in my household.)

    Also, it's spelled 'whiskey', or better, 'whisk(e)y'.

  4. Also, Dominic Roskrow and Mark Gillespie are whisky gods now? Is Gillespie the god of grade inflation?

    1. Roskrow's name seems to be on half the published whisky books out there and for a while he was writing for all of the whisky periodicals worldwide. Meanwhile Gillespie's Whiskycast cornered the market on whisky podcasts at just the time podcasts were taking off. So they have had and probably will continue to have a lot of influence on most people who are new to whisky, as well as the entirety of the #whiskyfabric.

      I have realized I am on unsteady ground commenting on grade inflation. After having publicly questioned the soundness of the opinion of a whisky god who gave the current Talisker 10 a score of 91 points, I looked back and saw that I gave Redbreast 12 a score of 94 points, twice. So either I'm a god or a fool. I'm probably a god.

  5. Awesome stuff! It certainly was nice to have people able to get me past Johnnie Walker. Excuse me whilst I sharpen my metaphorical knife for a metaphorical shedding of whisk(e)y god blood...

    1. Thank you. Life's too short to chase other people's dream whiskies. And those very whiskies are too expensive anyway.

  6. You probably are a god, krav. But in today's "look at me" world, you stand out as one whose words are worth a read.

    My two bits,


    1. Thanks, Bob! But beware my over-enthusiastic opinions about Irish whiskey. I'm pretty sure I've lost half of my readers (approximately 4) thanks to those.

  7. Do I get your whisky if I "figuratively" kill you Michael?

    Pay no attention to the suspicious quotation marks....

    1. "We can hate shopping at retailers beloved by anoraks and instead frequent BevMo."

      *Gasp* How uncouth! You, sir, are no gentleman. Now if you don't mind I will be cleaning my Glencairns by swirling a little bit of whisky onto the floor.

    2. Technically if you're destroying me then you probably have very little interest in my taste in whiskies. But if you want, you can have my collection of partially open bottles of Fireball Cinnamon Whisky: Tastes Like Heaven, Burns Like Hell.

    3. The swirling and spilling onto the floor thing has always seemed to me to be sitting at the crossroads of whisky wasting and prime douchery. My daughter swirls and spills her drinks onto the floor BUT SHE'S ONE YEAR OLD.

    4. Paterson has taught her well! Seriously though, his carpet (the one in his sample room) must smell awesome.

    5. Either that or the cleaning crew hate his guts.

  8. Timely article since the whisky gods are telling us we should be turning our tastes toward Asian whiskies...

    1. Am I the only person who's not a fan of Kavalan? I tried six of their whiskies, including four single casks, and was underwhelmed by all of them. I will say that the fino cask was the best, but it was $60-$80 Good, not $350-$400 Good. The Whisky Gods can keep their Kavalan. They can also keep Suntory's Distillers Reserves as well.

    2. I've only tried the Kavalan Solist Vinho Barrique as I had to buy a bottle for my pub knowing the customers would pay for it. Not worth the $200 I paid, for sure, but good for what it is. It certainly isn't the world's best single malt, or even in the top 20, but certainly more interesting than most of the Suntory whiskies I've had.
      Speaking of Suntory, I just saw a new Yamazaki special 2015 release yesterday at Yamaya, a local liquor warehouse-store, for around $100 and N.A.S. If it's Mizunara, Puncheon or Sherry Cask, OK, I'll buy... but for some bog-standard NAS whisky designed to part obsessives from their money, I'll take a pass and continue to stock up on Miyagikyo/Yoichi 10, 12 and 15 while they can still be gotten; inside word is that Miyagikyo/Yoichi single malts will be off the market by the end of the year.

    3. I should clarify, it's supposed to be the Miyagikyo/Yoichi single malts with age statements that will disappear completely from the shelves in the near future.

    4. Michael, I'm with you on the Kavalan thingy. I've tried some of their whiskies, some six as well I guess. The one I would spend the then asking price on (some € 100/125) was the Solist bourbon cask, but since I don't remember which one, I'll stick my money elsewhere.

      I don't even like all of the Japanese whiskies, and especially not at the current prices. Karuizawa is generally pretty good though.

    5. @Will J - The Vinho Barrique (cask W071210025) I tried was my second favorite of the six, but that was mostly because the wine overwhelmed the malt. As you mentioned, it's not worth the $200 for an individual buyer, but it's a great idea to buy for a bar. I didn't know you had a pub in Japan! Next time I'll let everyone know ahead of time when I'm heading out there.

      It's sad to hear that NIkka might be ending their age statements soon. Another shoulda -- I should have picked up another bottle of Yoichi 15 while I was in Japan as the exchange rate made it $30 cheaper there than here. Yamazaki's special 2015 release doesn't sound very special. I wonder what made it "special" in Suntory's eyes?

    6. @maltfascination - I will admit there's probably significant cask-to-cask variation. If you see their Bourbon Cask #B080616146, I'd recommend avoiding it. Unless that was the one you liked! :)

    7. Hopefully, I'll have a few more Chichibu's if/when you get a chance to drop by!

    8. That would be great! Hopefully Chichibus won't have tripled in price by the time I get out there again.